By voyage reporter Dan Cashman
Work challenges and free time
What was the work like?
Every morning, about 150 children turned up to a large field and it was our job to keep them entertained for the following seven hours. Most of the first week was spent building huts with the kids - I couldn't believe that the children (aged 6 - 12) were trusted with hammers, saws and nails; I'm sure that the health and safety rules in England wouldn't allow it, but the injuries were minimal and the kids had an amazing time! I also played a lot of football, and one day we took them all to a theme park. The most challenging day was definitely when all the children stayed overnight - I struggled to keep my eyes open the following day.
Generally speaking, the work was truly rewarding. The children were well-behaved and seemed to love the opportunity to meet people from other countries. Children also have an amazing ability to understand badly-spoken German (much to my gratitude!).
What did I do in my free-time?
Alongside the work, there was plenty of free-time. As a group of volunteers, we took excursions to Cologne, Hamburg and Hannover - the nightclubs were amazing, but the German train service was anything but punctual! We also got lots of time to read, chat, and go to museums and the cinema.
Why do it?
The experience was unforgettable. Not only was it cheaper than a holiday, my language ability has improved and I've grown in confidence. You get to meet other people from around Europe whilst at the same time doing something worthwhile. And if you're not tempted by working with children, there's a project to suit every taste - from restoring castles and running music festivals to protecting forests. I know I'll be volunteering again sometime soon and I'd really encourage you to come and join me!